On Thursday, Pellegrino was invited by John MacKenzie to discuss the hugely-scaled-down project, and couldn't resist the invitation to put the boot into the previous council. However his historical recollections don't track with the facts. And more disturbingly, Pellegrino has taken a stick to objectors with bare-knuckled threats he issued, that should send a chill thru every resident of Cairns.
Under the Byrne council, work began between Council and property owners in Smithfield to plan a "Smithfield Town Centre". One of the partners in this work was LHL Investments, owned by Capital Globe Investment group. Kevin Byrne became executive director with Capital Globe just weeks after losing to Val Schier. However planning for the project continued under the Schier council, although the usual objectors with businesses nearby were none to happy. Pellegrino asserted however that the Schier council and "objectors" killed the project.
Actually, the Smithfield Town Centre project died along with the Capital Globe directors who were mysteriously killed execution-style in Pakistan, with no one ever brought to answer. With Capital Globe then in disarray and Kevin Byrne going into hiding, it was impossible to proceed at that time.
Steve Pellegrino should thank his lucky stars that the project collapsed - by 2010 it would have been financial suicide to start such a project as the Cairns economy collapsed. The Schier council and what he called "the greedy traders" saved him from certain bankruptcy.
So now Pellegrino comes back with a project for only the Trinity Park Investments site and very aggressively issues warnings to anyone who would question the good sense of this project. The Smithfield Town Plan was on the road to being a winner - it's bullshit that a couple of objections scuttled this plan. This new plan however is just a grab for development cash. Another Cairns eyesore in the making.
A "whisper campaign" conducted prior to the Council vote suggested the site would be used for a Masters Hardware and supermarket (with Masters owned by Woolworths, that would be the only possibility). Pellegrino backed right away from this suggestion when asked, however and said only that a convenience market and bulky goods distribution store were on the cards.
The use of the consultation process by competitors to stall developments isn't fair to the developers, nor the community. There is plenty wrong with this development without attacking it for competitive reasons. But Queensland law allows developments to be challenged for a wide variety of reasons, and now that we have a Council that is green-lighting over-development, people are going to attack it.
This Trinity Park project is classic Cairns overdevelopment. Instead of finding a use that can be accommodated in this triangular-shaped block, Pellegrino has jammed 19,000 square meters of rectangular floorspace into a block that clearly cannot accommodate it without gross impacts on the neighbourhood. One only needs to look around the city to see the results of a development strategy that continues to build too-large projects on too-small sites. The primary impact is the lack of car parks. On this Smithfield development, the 600 car parks include over 200 inaccessible to the store entrances, shoved helter skelter behind the rectangular boxes. Inadequate loading areas mean big trucks clogging the parking areas. A similar project anchored by a Masters and Woolworths at Mt. Gambier, SA has almost 1200 car parks - and they're not hidden behind the buildings, either. Smithfield Centre is so grossly short of carparks that they're often overflowing into the Cook Highway buffer strip, and THEY have a proposal to increase the size of this poorly-designed mall!
|JUST 200m AWAY, BUSINESSES WITH INADQUATE|
PARKING FLOOD THE ROAD RESERVE
WITH CARS THAT HAVE NO PLACE TO GO
During this same Council meeting they approved an expansion of the Trinity Beach Coastwatcher Centre without an appropriate expansion of carparks. As noted by the neighbourhood, cars are already parking illegally around this centre. This approval means a bigger flood of cars into residential streets.
Developers need to have a Cairns Plan that encourages the right thing. We don't have that. And now we have a so-called "pro-development" Council that's rubber stamping any old crap. No wonder the "Steve Pellegrino's" are back!
Bob "Sleepy" Manning's response? "Providing the scheme is compliant, the Council is bound to it". Hey Bob, the planning scheme is the problem! You're just kicking the can down the road, approving shit.
After acknowledging the right for Nick Loukas or others to block the development for court review, Pelligrino then brings out the big hammer - claiming that "under the new Campbell Newman administration, I am able to sue for a vexatious appeal, which we, we'll consider that, and I'll certainly be taking that opportunity up if they do appeal".
For over 20 years, the "own costs" rule has allowed the little guy, aggrieved neighbourhoods, and others to access the courts and get avoid getting run over by the developers. A change in this law shows that the developers with the big pockets are now going to stifle public opinion via the courts and their use of the court process.
It's a dark day for Cairns development.